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Celebrate the change of season (and all of its exciting flavors) with the Kids Food Festival! This weekend-long event, hosted in the heart of downtown New York City, aims to educate families about how to make balanced food choices through fun and engaging wellness-related activities. The Festival hopes to create wholesome lifelong eating habits for both kids and parents.
One of our favorite family-friendly activities within the event, and the core educational tool disguised as a game, is the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt. This part-game, part-teaching tool is designed to help families learn how to eat in a balanced fashion, via the USDA’s Myplate image: Families have fun visiting different food exhibitors who are attending the festival; they may sample their family-friendly foods and learn about various food or wellness-related organizations showcasing their projects and causes or create a kitchen craft. As they engage with the various exhibitors, the children get a stamp on their plate. Once their plate is fully “balanced” with stamps, they show the Kids Food Festival team and are rewarded with a goody bag of prizes. Families may also earn stamps by stopping by the main stage, where they can watch a cooking demonstration, sample a yoga class or dance to a fun band. Families can also participate in cooking activities in the James Beard Foundation Future Foodies Pavilion, where well-known chefs lead hands-on cooking classes each hour.
The Creative Kitchen’s philosophy (exemplified in the execution of the Kids Food Festival) stresses the importance of learning through fun and engaging activities, specifically teaching about food and cooking. Through the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt, we hope that families learn more about the various food groups showcased in the Myplate image, how to eat in a balanced fashion, and understand how each food group plays an important role in a healthful body.
– Fruits: There are more than 2,000 types of fruits. Fruits are high in fiber; they may also be good sources of vitamins A, C, E and K, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron.
– Vegetables: There are over 1,000 types of vegetables. Vegetables are high in fiber; they may also be good sources of vitamins A, C, E, and K, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc and iron.
– Proteins: This food group includes meats, fish, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and eggs. Proteins are high in iron; they may also be good sources of vitamin B, zinc and magnesium. They serve as the building blocks of muscles and bones.
– Grains: This food group includes cereals, breads, crackers, pastas, popcorn, rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, and oats. Grains are good sources of vitamin B, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. Note that whole grains contain more nutrients and fiber than refined grains.
– Dairy: This food group includes milk, yogurt and cheese. Dairy products are high in calcium, which is good for your bones and teeth. They are also good sources of vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium and protein.
Cricket Azima is a dynamic professional chef who specializes in cooking for and with children. Cricket has worked with a variety of food companies, including Whole Foods Market, Foodnetwork.com, Organic Valley, Happy Family and General Mills, to name a few. She’s published several books, including her children’s cookbook, “Everybody Eats Lunch,” (Glitterati Inc., 2008) and coauthored “The Happy Family Organic Superfoods Cookbook for Baby & Toddler.”
Since 1999, Cricket has been teaching cooking classes to children of all ages at various locations in New York City. Cricket wrote her master’s thesis on the benefits of teaching cooking to children, which led her to launch The Creative Kitchen in 2003 (www.thecreativekitchen.com). The Creative Kitchen hosts hands-on children cooking classes and events at venues such as schools, Whole Foods Market, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s.
In 2012, she founded the Kids Food Festival (www.kidsfoodfestival.com), a New York City celebration to educate families on how to make balanced food choices. The annual weekend of events serves as an effort to prevent childhood obesity through fun programming and entertainment for the whole family. The Kids Food Festival partners with the James Beard Foundation, the American Heart Association, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.
Cricket has a MA in Food Studies & Food Management from New York University and Peter Kump’s New York Culinary School (now, The Institute of Culinary Education, where she received her professional culinary degree). Cricket is a member of the Board of the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Committee and the NYC Autism Charter School.